What is the sea cargo pathway?
The sea cargo pathway is what happens to imported containers and cargo before they are cleared for delivery. This includes:
- pre-departure requirements in the country of origin
- arrival and clearance at the New Zealand border
- unloading at the port
- movement to a transitional facility (TF)
- transport to a delivery address.
Review of the sea cargo pathway
In 2019, Biosecurity New Zealand asked for a review of how sea containers and cargo were checked at the border. The review helped us identify:
- why there are delays in clearing cargo
- ways we can improve biosecurity.
How we're improving the sea cargo pathway
The report suggested some improvements. We're making those changes through the Sea Cargo Pathways Programme. The programme is a set of projects to:
- reduce the risk of pests and diseases entering New Zealand
- reduce delays in clearing goods
- improve trust and confidence in the pathway.
The projects are:
Full (100%) reporting of sea container movements by transitional facilities (TFs) began in July 2021. Prior to this, TFs had to report only when contamination was found.
The 100% checks mean we're capturing extra data. We are using that to guide our decision-making across the pathway.
TFs play an important role in the sea cargo pathway. They provide secure locations with trained staff to manage uncleared goods. We rely on them to meet their biosecurity responsibilities.
We're introducing a performance-based verification (PBV) system to audit TF's. PBV is about recognising good performance. It will mean fewer audits and other checks. Essentially, if you do the job well, you will see less of us.
We will also change from inspection to verification auditing. TF operators will be responsible for showing their processes can meet biosecurity requirements. We will expect to see:
- more robust internal procedures
- evidence that these processes are effective.
A similar approach is already used by MPI to verify businesses dealing with animal products, food, and wine.
These changes are about having a "lighter touch" for TFs that are good performers. But all facilities can expect greater involvement from our officers for some activities, like:
- unloading high-risk goods
- tracking container movements.
That's because we need to be sure things are working well with activities that pose the greatest threats.
Find out more
Download our FAQ for answers about performance-based verification. This has a copy of the report format sent to TF operators after verification:
Download our infographic that shows the factors that make up performance-based verification:
We are working on procedures to allow container hubbing. This is when containers are moved to a holding area before going to their assigned TF. We need strict controls on this practice to avoid biosecurity risks.
We are looking to improve training for TF operators and accredited persons. It's an area where standards and delivery could be updated to align with the new PBV system. We also want to improve accountability. The duty for risk management sits with managers as much as it does with the workers doing biosecurity checks.
We're improving our border operating procedures. We use these to interpret import legislation when clearing goods or doing inspections. The improvements will mean faster and more accurate goods clearance.
In August 2021, we held industry roadshows. This was a chance to talk about the changes to the pathway and get feedback.
Download the roadshow presentation slides [PDF, 2.8 MB]
We'll use the feedback to develop our programme of work. We're planning more roadshows in 2022.
Setting the sea cargo pathway work programme
We are regularly assessing what we should add to the work programme. We'll update this web page as things change.
Managing the work as a programme ensures that we:
- do the work efficiently
- get the best outcomes from related work already underway at MPI.
We're also working with Customs to plan and share resources.
Who to contact
If you have feedback or questions about the programme, email firstname.lastname@example.org